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Report on the 2010 FVA: Artists with verve and audiences in synch

Tuesday, February 16, 2010
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The 9th annual Festival Voix d’Amériques ran February 5 to 12 2010 and frankly, it was staggering! There were packed rooms, but FVA audiences are the best—attentive, engaged, letting artists perform with emotion and candour. We keep hearing it said: the people who come to the FVA are a huge part of its success, welcoming our innovative approach and the surprises we present every year. In concrete terms, we filled the rooms to 95% capacity, a 10% increase over 2009.

Guest of honour Ursula Rucker gave strong, intense performances and loved her experience at the FVA. Galvanized after her mainstage show, she signed up for the late-night Open Mic! Sky de Sela, meanwhile, gave an overwhelming performance. She made us laugh and had us holding our breath, the better to hear her smallest sigh, her lightest smile.

Body and Soul delivered the goods, with moving and powerful girls on stage for two nights. The performers in Dans la forêt led us into unknown worlds with a show that was fraught with possibility, touching, lyrical and strange. And d’bi.young turned out to be a fantastic storyteller in BENU, presented at La Chapelle.

Our beloved Fred Fortin and his virtuoso sidekicks gave an unforgettable, generous performance. Our French-language soapbox event, Combat contre la langue de bois, was especially intense as firebrand nun Sister Esther Champagne spoke out for corporate social responsibility. Will Prosper, Odile Tremblay and Claude Poissant were no slouches either.

The QUEER DADA Cabaret was quite simply hallucinatory. The flaming Stéphane Crête did not skimp on costumes (15-inch heels) and gave it up body and soul—especially body. Guests showed what QUEER really means: just try to forget the arrival of Mado Lamotte at the Sala Rossa with five giant drag queens in tow. New York performance artist Susana Cook brought down the house with her telling (in French, if you please) of an apocalypse tale. And only the FVA puts the disparate worlds of Alexandre St-Onge, 2boys.tv and Plastik Patrik on the same stage.

We broke the ice at the new Casa, filled to capacity most nights. Our Happy Hour “band + poetry” series was outstanding this year. Bernard Adamus, Séba and guests set the tone with a totally downbeat sound; Dynamo Coleoptera created a magical, very visual world; Music For Money and the post-adolescent poets delighted us; there was a very moving launch for the book Passagères: Voix de Changements; Krista Muir was sweet as candy; Les Sirènes stirred things up; and so it went. We adore this series because it means we get to bring you free shows by both established and emerging voices.

And lastly, the Night Shifts. A huge success, featuring new artists and new voices at the Open Mic. Marjolaine Beauchamp gave a memorable, touching performance, along with the startling comedy of the Down syndrome group Jo Jack & John, and the powerful presence of Ève Cournoyer.

LFE artistic director D. Kimm, indefatigable and electric as ever, is already working on the tenth FVA, which promises to be especially sumptuous. Les Filles Électriques will be celebrating not only its own 10th anniversary but also that of the FVA, in addition to yet another nomination for the Montreal Arts Council’s Grand Prix in the “New Artistic Practices” category. Les Filles Électriques has become the standard in terms of showcasing voices with a difference while putting risk, experimentation and emotion on stage. We’re keeping our fingers crossed and wish them the best of luck.